DoD Inspector General to Investigate Decision to Locate US Space Command Headquarters n Huntsville

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General has announced an investigation into the U.S. Air Force’s controversial decision to locate U.S. Space Command’s headquarters at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala.

In a letter to the U.S. Air Force secretary, the office said it would investigate whether the decision process:

  • “complied with DoD and Air Force policies during the location selection process;
  • used objective and relevant scoring factors to rank the six candidate locations; and
  • calculated the cost and other scoring factors accurately and consistently among the six candidate locations.”
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Virgin Orbit to Launch First Satellite for Dutch Ministry of Defense

Virgin Orbit Cosmic Girl Boeing 747 takes off from the Mojave Air and Space Port. (Credit: Virgin Orbit)

LONG BEACH, Calif., January 25, 2021 (Virgin Orbit PR) — Virgin Orbit, the California-based satellite launch company, announced today that it has been selected by the Dutch space engineering company Innovative Solutions in Space (ISIS) to launch the Royal Netherlands Air Force’s (RNLAF) first ever satellite, a 6U CubeSat called BRIK-II.

Designed and integrated by ISIS, BRIK-II will serve as a testbed for various communications experiments and demonstrate how nanosatellites can provide a meaningful contribution to military operations. The mission represents a significant step forward for the Dutch Ministry of Defense’s efforts to develop their first space capabilities, with a particular emphasis on responsive launch.

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Statement from the Press Secretary Regarding Small Modular Reactors for National Defense and Space Exploration

Credit: Matt Wade

WASHINGTON, January 12, 2021 (White House PR) — Today, President Trump is issuing an Executive Order on Promoting Small Modular Reactors for National Defense and Space Exploration, which will further revitalize the United States nuclear energy sector, reinvigorate America’s space exploration program, and produce diverse energy options for national defense needs.

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Lockheed Martin Wins $4.9 Billion Contract for 3 Missile Warning Satellites

The Pentagon has awarded Lockheed Martin a contract worth $4.9 billion to build three Next-Generation Overhead Persistent Infrared satellites to warn of incoming missiles.

The contract also covers “delivery of ground mission unique software and ground sensor processing software. Additionally, this modification includes engineering support for launch vehicle integration and launch and early on-orbit checkout for all three” spacecraft for the U.S. Space Force.

“Work will be performed in Sunnyvale, California, and is expected to be completed May 31, 2028.  Fiscal 2021 research, development, test and evaluation funds in the amount of $99,000,000 are being obligated at the time of award,” the Pentagon said in its announcement.

Small Satellite Leader Blue Canyon Technologies Completes CDR for DARPA Blackjack Program

BCT demonstrated maturity and capability of its X-SAT bus design which will enhance LEO communications for the U.S. Department of Defense

BOULDER, Colo. (Blue Canyon Technology PR) — Leading small satellite manufacturer and mission services provider Blue Canyon Technologies, Inc. (“BCT” or “Blue Canyon”) announced today that it has completed its critical design review (CDR) for the Blackjack Program, a military space capabilities demonstration being developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

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NASA Supports America’s National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion

Illustration of a Mars transit habitat and nuclear propulsion system that could one day take astronauts to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — President Donald Trump has issued a new Space Policy Directive that will help propel NASA and humanity’s next giant leap – creating a sustainable presence on the Moon and sending astronauts to Mars.

The president issued Space Policy Directive-6 (SPD-6), the Nation’s Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion (SNPP), Wednesday, Dec. 16. Space nuclear systems power spacecraft for missions where alternative power sources are inadequate, such as environments that are too dark for solar power or too far away to carry sufficient quantities of chemical fuels.

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Memorandum on the National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power and Propulsion (Space Policy Directive-6)

Illustration of a Mars transit habitat and nuclear propulsion system that could one day take astronauts to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

Space Policy Directive-6

MEMORANDUM FOR THE VICE PRESIDENT
THE SECRETARY OF STATE
THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE
THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION
THE SECRETARY OF ENERGY
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT
AND BUDGET
THE ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT FOR NATIONAL
SECURITY AFFAIRS
THE ADMINISTRATOR OF THE NATIONAL AERONAUTICS
AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION
THE CHAIRMAN OF THE NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
THE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF SCIENCE AND
TECHNOLOGY POLICY

SUBJECT: National Strategy for Space Nuclear Power
and Propulsion

Section 1. Policy. The ability to use space nuclear power and propulsion (SNPP) systems safely, securely, and sustainably is vital to maintaining and advancing United States dominance and strategic leadership in space. SNPP systems include radioisotope power systems (RPSs) and fission reactors used for power or propulsion in spacecraft, rovers, and other surface elements. SNPP systems can allow operation of such elements in environments in which solar and chemical power are inadequate. They can produce more power at lower mass and volume compared to other energy sources, thereby enabling persistent presence and operations. SNPP systems also can shorten transit times for crewed and robotic spacecraft, thereby reducing radiation exposure in harsh space environments.

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Chief of Space Operations Discusses Need for Outreach to Partners, State of Space Force

 

Gen. John “Jay” Raymond. Chief of Space Operations, U.S. Space Force, Commander, U.S. Space Command, provides remarks at the USSPACECOM Change of Command. (Credit: Lewis Carlyle)

By Jim Garamone
DOD News

The importance of space to the modern world cannot be underestimated, and the U.S. Space Force will be key to defending the ultimate “high ground,” said Space Force Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, the chief of space operations for the new service.

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Winners Announced for US/UK Partnered International Space Pitch Day

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (USSF SMC PR) –  U.S Space Force’s Space And Missile Systems Center,  (SMC) along with its partners have announced the winners of International Space Pitch Day (ISPD). Small tech companies and start-ups from multiple countries had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in front of several U.S., U.K. and N.A.T.O. allied defense leaders on Nov. 16, 2020.

During the event, ten start-ups successfully secured same-day contracts and a slice of the $1M pot, to fast-track the development of their innovations. This marks the first time two nations have come together to award defense contracts based around a pitch-style event and the first time two nations have awarded joint defense innovation contracts to foreign companies.

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Astrobotic & University of Pittsburgh’s SHREC Partnering for Space Technologies Research

Teams will work together to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC) are pleased to announce a partnership to develop new software and hardware technologies for future space applications.

The SHREC consortium, led by the University of Pittsburgh, is an NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) and will work together with Astrobotic by pairing first-class academic researchers with engineering teams to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

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NGA Adds BlackSky Global, Planet Federal Imagery to Unclassified Delivery System

SPRINGFIELD, Va. (NGA PR) – The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s primary unclassified delivery system now features small satellite commercial imagery, enabling federal government and international partners increased access to geospatial data to meet mission demands. 

The G-EGD system, first introduced in 2011, consisted of only of MAXAR/Digital Globe imagery, but the addition of Planet Federal and BlackSky Global data represents the first time that small satellite imagery has been integrated into the delivery system.

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Nuclear Tech in Space: What’s on the Horizon?

Illustration of a Mars transit habitat and nuclear propulsion system that could one day take astronauts to Mars. (Credits: NASA)

La Grange Park, Ill. (American Nuclear Society PR) — NASA aims to develop nuclear technologies for two space applications: propulsion and surface power. Both can make planned NASA missions to the moon more agile and more ambitious, and both are being developed with future crewed missions to Mars in mind. Like advanced reactors here on Earth, space nuclear technologies have an accelerated timeline for deployment in this decade.

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Defense Department Establishes New Office to Oversee Space Policy

WASHINGTON (DoD PR) — As directed in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 the Department of Defense established the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Space Policy (ASD(SP)) and the Office of the ASD(SP) Oct. 29, 2020.  

The ASD(SP) will be the senior official responsible for the overall supervision of DoD policy for space warfighting.  The ASD(SP) will be under the authority, direction, and control of the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (USD(P)).  In addition, ASD(SP) is responsible for interagency coordination and international engagement on space policy and strategy.

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SMC Awards Satellite Rapid Prototyping Contract to Northrop Grumman

LOS ANGELES AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. (SMC PR) —The Space and Missile Systems Center awarded an Evolved Strategic SATCOM Space Rapid Prototyping contract to Northrop Grumman on Sept. 16.

The first in a series, SMC will award up to three separate contracts for this work to drive a competitive, rapid prototyping effort and mitigate the risk inherent in these early prototyping and demonstration activities. Subsequent contract awards are expected in the coming weeks.

Under this 5-year space segment rapid prototyping phase, each contractor will develop ground prototypes to demonstrate the most essential ESS payload elements to reduce risk for development and production of the ESS system.

The ESS program will fulfill the Department of Defense capability need for space-based protected strategic military satellite communications. The ESS program will ensure continued capacity, coverage, and protection for worldwide and Arctic DoD strategic, secure, anti-jam, survivable communications supporting ground, sea, and air assets.

ESS will augment, and eventually replace, the Advanced Extremely High Frequency system in support of strategic missions. SMC’s Space Development Corps, led by Col. Tim Sejba, manages the ESS program.

Isotropic Systems Signs Contract with SES GS to Initiate Multi-Orbit Trials of Next-Gen Multi-beam Antenna Technologies for U.S. Military

READING/RESTON, 24 September 2020 (SES GS PR) – SES Government Solutions (SES GS), a fully-owned affiliate of SES, and Isotropic Systems, a leading developer of transformational broadband terminal technologies, today announced a two-phased antenna evaluation contract with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, working in close collaboration with the U.S. Army Research Engineering Team, for tests of Isotropic Systems’ multi-beam terminal over SES’s O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) constellation to ultimately unleash next-gen connectivity across the battlefield.  

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